Shakespeare’s Sister Revisited: A Circle of Female Lineage by Mary Sharratt

Inspiring and well written by Mary Sharrat

Vanessa Bell’s painting of her sister, Virginia Woolf

What do groundbreaking 17th century poet, Aemilia Bassano Lanier, and 20th century feminist icon, Virginia Woolf, have in common? A lot actually.

In her 1929 essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” Woolf imagines the tragedy of Shakespeare’s brilliant sister, Judith, barred from the grammar school because of her sex and forced to hide her writing from her family. To escape a forced marriage to a man she hates, she runs away to London to seek her fortune in the theatre, only to end up pregnant, abandoned, and destitute. Out of despair, she kills herself.

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Somebody killed my muse (dusk)


Somebody killed my muse (dusk) published in Boston Poetry Magazine

by Donna J. Snyder

He strangled her during a hot night of vice,
her mouth stuffed full of harsh memories. Dropped
debris on her belly and fled for hell, her heat and weight
left to disappear into the growing silence.
He found her scribbling in a smoky room with no pillow,
sang a song to Saturn and turned off the light.
Left her moaning in the dusk, brute fact
shoved into her like a broom.
Threw her songbook in the alley.
Broke her pen in three pieces.
Stripped her of the rush of blood and heat
that gives birth to memory.
Hung her by the neck of silence, her body
swinging slowly in the spiritless wind.
Fled into a silent future, bereft of dance and song.

There’s a warrant out for a wordless soul.
Nothing left to give much comfort to a sorrowful world.
Somebody killed my muse.

Source: Somebody killed my muse (dusk)

My poem “Chilling Effect” published in The Tongue Has Its Secrets

from my collection The Tongue Has Its Secrets, my collection published by NeoPoiesis Press in 2016

Chilling effect1
I want to write about being at risk,
Silenced and scrutinized,
in nightmares jeweled words
wrangle sense and image.
Sun-shot thought champions dissent,
but anything I say can and will
be used against me.
Why am I alone in this protest?
Where is the vigor of astringency, the vinegar
homilies to warn of Cassandra’s oblivion?
Where are the bereaved, clad in weeds
of aubergine & black?
In the garden there is a skein of broken limbs,
bound for burial.
Avert your eyes and pray for solace,
the sweet bitterness of grapefruit marmalade
that wrenches a tongue from slumber.

A chilling effect is the stifling or suppression of political debate or other form of
expression or conduct by creating, through law or force, a fear of penalty or other potential
negative effect. See, e.g., “Chilling Effect Doctrine.” West’s Encyclopedia of American
Law 2005 15 Apr. 2015